Offbeat Fearing Wrath of Trump, Republicans Back Down on Free Trade

05:11  14 june  2018
05:11  14 june  2018 Source:   nytimes.com

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But when it came time to stand up to President Trump on tariffs this week, Senate Republicans took a pass, casting aside the party’s long-held commitment to free trade for fear of poking the bear.

In a remarkably public confrontation, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican allies of President Donald Trump pleaded with him Monday to back away from his threatened international tariffs, which they fear could spark a dangerous trade war. Trump retorted: "We're not backing down ."

a group of people standing in a room: Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, on Wednesday described his party’s following of President Trump as “cultish.” © Al Drago for The New York Times Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, on Wednesday described his party’s following of President Trump as “cultish.”

WASHINGTON — They have issued concerned news releases and sent solemn tweets. But when it came time to stand up to President Trump on tariffs this week, Senate Republicans took a pass, casting aside the party’s long-held commitment to free trade for fear of poking the bear.

At least that is how Senator Bob Corker interpreted the outcome of the intraparty fight over how to combat Mr. Trump’s protectionist policies.

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But if Trump gets angry and slams down -ballot Republicans , his supporters are likely to follow his lead and punish the targets of his wrath . Trump has publicized anti- free trade , anti-immigration, and nativist views that GOP leaders have largely kept in check.

The Republican leaders fear a trade war that would dampen the economic benefits of their tax cuts, which the “No, we are not backing down ,” he told reporters who asked about Ryan’s criticism in the Oval Office on Monday. Congress could stop Trump from imposing the tariffs tomorrow if it wanted to.

“Gosh, we might poke the bear,” Mr. Corker, a Tennessee Republican who is retiring, said with fake outrage as he laced into his colleagues for disavowing their beliefs on trade because they are scared of the president and the prospect of losing power.

The decision by Republican leaders this week to block a vote on Mr. Corker’s amendment to an annual defense policy bill that would have required the president to get congressional approval to impose tariffs on national security grounds was something of a watershed. Republican leaders maintained that the measure would have created procedural issues that could jeopardize the underlying defense policy bill. They privately called Mr. Corker’s reaction hyperbolic, and other Republicans said they would continue to make their differences with the president clear.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican allies of President Donald Trump are pleading with him to back away from his threatened international tariffs, which they fear could spark a dangerous trade war. Trump retorted: “We’re not backing down .” The president on Monday said U.S

He’s supposed to cut back on the blatant falsehoods that Rally Trump favors. It’s clear tonight that Rally Trump can read just fine from a teleprompter and still double down on fear -mongering and The villains are immigrants; they alone are to blame for domestic terrorism. Trade agreements, too.

But the amendment’s defeat, without a vote tallied, was a setback for a core Republican principle, and it played out in public on the Senate floor, underscoring just how far most congressional Republicans would go to avoid confronting Mr. Trump ahead of the November midterm elections. The increasingly lonely forces of opposition within the party are coming from those who are leaving politics or those in the chattering classes safely removed from a Republican electorate overwhelmingly aligned with the president.

Chrystia Freeland et al. standing in front of a microphone: Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, warned that her country had retaliatory tariffs ready to be unleashed on July 1. © Al Drago for The New York Times Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, warned that her country had retaliatory tariffs ready to be unleashed on July 1.

“There’s no question that leadership in general is wary of doing anything that might upset the president,” Mr. Corker said on Wednesday, describing his party’s following of Mr. Trump as “cultish.”

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They were also key advisers of the recently passed Republican tax bill which On Friday he doubled down on his decision via a tweet saying “ trade wars are good and easy to win.” “I do know he's (Cohn) a free trade guy and he's probably not really thrilled with the latest developments,” Moore said.

President Donald Trump insisted Monday that he's "not backing down " on his plan to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum despite anxious warnings from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional Republicans of a possible trade war.The president said that

Other Republicans were equally deflated on Wednesday, but the path forward was not clear. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, is reluctant to put forward legislation that Mr. Trump does not support because he does not want to waste time making Republican senators take difficult votes ahead of a possible veto.

“It’s terribly disappointing,” said Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, who helped write the Corker trade amendment. He added: “We are the Senate. We’re not potted plants. We should be doing what we think is right.”

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former director of the Congressional Budget Office and president of the conservative American Action Forum, said the Republican trade rebellion collapsed because the party is genuinely divided on the issue these days — and laying bare those divisions would not help Republican election prospects. The fear of a seething presidential tweet has left some in the party paralyzed.

“They’re going to have to pick a place to make a stand, and they haven’t,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin said.

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Donald Trump is staring down decades of Republican Party orthodoxy on a signature issue. Donald Trump has launched an all-out assault on America's free - trade agreements, hitting a peak in Feeling the growing tide of antitrade and anti-Nafta sentiment brewing back home, Obama said people with

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One area where many Republicans are continuing to hold strong against Mr. Trump is national security. While they have buckled on trade, the next test will be whether Republicans will dare Mr. Trump to veto the defense policy bill over ZTE, the Chinese telecommunications company.

Senate Republicans have joined Democrats to include in the defense measure an amendment that would restore harsh penalties on ZTE for violating American sanctions that the Trump administration has moved to lift. If it makes it to the president’s desk, the provision would undercut the settlement that the Commerce Department reached with the company this month that essentially threw it a lifeline at the request of China’s president, Xi Jinping.

The White House on Wednesday signaled that it would try to strip that amendment out when House and Senate negotiators hash out a final National Defense Authorization Act.

“The administration will work with Congress to ensure the final N.D.A.A. conference report respects the separation of powers,” Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, said, insisting that the new agreement makes ZTE pay for its violations and gives the government sufficient oversight of the company to protect the United States.

Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who has been a vocal advocate of the Senate’s approach, said the White House was entitled to its opinion, but he stood firm.

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“ZTE poses a significant national security threat to U.S. telecommunications, and we shouldn’t be doing anything that allows them to stay in business,” Mr. Rubio said.

Consternation over ZTE has created bipartisan backlash against Mr. Trump, and lawmakers have been more willing to defy him on national security issues than trade disputes.

“ZTE combines two potent issues: economic security with China plus national security,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader. “Both China trade policy and national security have broad and deep support in both parties.”

Trump administration officials have argued that the president is using the threat of tariffs and showing flexibility over ZTE as part of a broader strategy to overhaul America’s trade deals, reorient commerce with China and strike a peace agreement with North Korea. His Republican allies in Congress contend that he should have the space to maneuver.

“I’m tired of senators trying to undercut President Trump at every turn, especially in the middle of a negotiating process,” Senator David Perdue, a conservative Georgian and ally of Mr. Trump, said on the Senate floor on Wednesday.

He moved on Wednesday afternoon to strip the ZTE provision from the defense bill, only to be blocked.

While Republicans appear ready to swallow their worries about trade for the moment, an all-out trade war could restore their nerve. Breaking with the president has its risks, but rattled financial markets and slower economic growth are also problematic in an election year.

Mr. Trump could roll out more tariffs on China as soon as this week, and countries are preparing to hit back with tariffs of their own on American products, from Kentucky bourbon to Harley-Davidsons.

Next Wednesday, Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah and chairman of the Finance Committee, will hold a hearing on the tariffs and question Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, about their potential harm to American consumers.

After a meeting at the Capitol with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, warned that her country had retaliatory tariffs ready to be unleashed on July 1. She said that Canada was rolling them out more in sorrow than in anger and that she hoped retaliation could be avoided.

“The answer is very simple: The United States has to remove these unfair illegal tariffs from Canada,” Ms. Freeland said.

China's Media Calls Trump Delusional .
China and Trump are waging a war of words.President Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imports from China is a “symptom of paranoid delusions,” China’s state-run media announced Friday as the two countries ramp up their threats of a full-scale trade war.

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